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University reverses rape chat decision after public shaming

The University of Warwick has reversed its decision to allow students back on campus after they issued rape threats.

After a public backlash, the university in Coventry, England imposed a lifetime ban on two students.

The original incident, which occurred last year, involved 11 students who had posted various slurs in a Facebook group chat. They included “Sometimes it’s fun to just go wild and rape 100 girls” as well as racist and antisemitic comments. They named specific women, with one poster writing: “Rape the whole flat to teach them all [a] lesson.”

Following an investigation, two of the students were suspended for one year, two for 10, and one incurred a lifetime ban from the university.

After an appeal, however, the university reduced the two 10-year bans to one year a piece.

Known on Twitter as #ShameOnYouWarwick, a public campaign against the university’s about-face rapidly grew, resulting in the university imposing lifetime bans on the students who made rape comments – who were previously banned for one year.

The university has also committed to reviewing its disciplinary processes in the wake of the campaign, which included hundreds of students protesting on campus.

Victims spoke out, including one who said she had relapsed into depression and an eating disorder and developed anxiety as a result of the incident and the 10-month inquiry process. She noted that she was “terrified” of attending classes in the event she would encounter one of the men who threatened to rape her.

In a statement, the university apologised for its actions.

The saga comes as the world, including Australian universities, reckons with the fallout of the #MeToo movement. Zero tolerance for and proactive attempts to prevent sexual harassment and assault, it seems, is the only way forward.

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